What comes to mind when you think “comfort food”? Unfortunately for many new keto dieters, one of our all-time favorite comfort foods- pasta – has to be eliminated. We don’t want all those extra carbs in our diet.
Luckily, there are alternatives that not only mimic the texture and deliciousness of pasta but exceed it! Just for our favorite keto readers, we have put together a list of the best keto pasta alternatives to impress even the most dedicated pasta lovers.
Why is Pasta a No-No on the Keto Diet?
As you may already know, the keto diet gets its name from the amino acid “ketones” that are a byproduct of the body converting fats to use as energy. When our body goes into ketosis, it favors the burning of fat over glucose, essentially rendering carbohydrates less critical in metabolism.
By becoming fat-adapted, our body no longer relies on carbs for energy, and instead find much more efficiency in using fats. Not only is this diet incredibly effective for weight loss (it targets fat), but it also has been shown to have tremendous benefits for the skin, the brain, and many health disorders.
Traditional wheat pasta is incredibly high in carbohydrates, making it the perfect “fuel” for our traditional diet. However, on keto, we look to eliminate carbs and increase our uptake of fats and protein. Unfortunately, pasta has to go.
Keto Pasta Alternatives
As the keto movement continues to grow, talented people worldwide continue to come up with creative ways to bridge the gap. Here we give you a tasty list of pasta alternatives that are perfect for the keto diet.
It’s a crowd favorite among everyone, regardless of whether a keto diet is involved. The only thing you need to prepare this dish is a spiralizer, a device used to cut long thin strips of vegetables to resemble noodles.
While zucchini is by far the most popular spiralized vegetable option due to its texture and taste, other vegetables such as carrots, beets, and cucumbers can be prepared the same way.
Also called “Zoodles” this keto pasta alternative loses its undesirable fibrous texture when cooked, and does a great job of absorbing any flavors or sauce when being simmered.
Cauliflower is famous for its benefits, linked to its high concentration of essential vitamins such as vitamins C, E, and K. Similar to its cruciferous vegetable compadre broccoli, cauliflower is incredibly low in carbs and full of minerals and antioxidants.
The firm cabbage texture allows it to hold up to most types of food processing. To make couscous, it’s as easy as adding the cauliflower florets through a food processor, creating a rice alternative. Add it to a dish, cook it up in a stir fry, or even use it to make a cold cabbage couscous salad.
As a side note, some people have found a similar strategy while using celery. Make sure to chop the celery up before putting it into the food processor to avoid the stringy, fibrous texture.
Shirataki (Tofu) Noodles
Made from glucomannan, Shirataki noodles provide incredible texture, are surprisingly filling, and carry a zero-carb price tag. Essentially, they are full of water.
While they do not provide the dieter a significant source of nutrients, they can be used freely and generously to provide healthy filling. For many (including us), they also have a delicious texture and absorb flavors well.
Shirataki noodles are often combined with tofu to provide essential minerals and nutrients and an excellent alternative for keto, vegan and vegetarian dieters.
Sprouts are affordable, nutritious, and, most importantly, incredibly easy to prepare. We recommend either sliced Brussel sprouts of bean sprouts to start with, as they both hold texture well, mimicking the pasta feel.
When using sprouts in a pasta recipe, it’s important to only blanch them for a few seconds in hot water and remove them quickly. Once you run them through cold water to stop them from continuing to cook, they will hold a similar pasta texture and can be added to any dish.
For inspiration on how to add Brussel sprouts to your Shirataki Noodles, see a favorite recipe of ours here.
Egg and Mozzarella Pasta
For those willing to put in a bit more time, you can reap the rewards of this creative and delicious pasta alternative. For the keto diet, eggs are great for providing healthy fats and protein when intake is monitored correctly. While texture on this recipe might take a little bit of practice, they are certainly a nice change from the simple vegetable noodles that may occupy your meals.
To make this pasta, melt mozzarella cheese in a bowl, combine with egg yolk(one yolk per cup of mozzarella), and flatten out using two pieces of parchment. This combination created a doughlike texture that can be cut into pasta strips and refrigerated overnight for the best results.
Almond Flour Pasta
Ending with one of our favorites, almond flour pasta is an excellent alternative for keto dieters and dieters alike. While the consistency is far from identical to wheat pasta, using almond flour allows creative cookers to craft creative homemade pasta dishes using their previous pasta skills. It also brings with it all the incredible benefits of almonds.
For those who are not interested in homemade pasta, almond flour alternatives can be found in grocery stores.
We leave the best for last and highly encourage our readers to give this easy alternative a go. Due to its natural consistency, baked squash can be teased and scraped into thin noodles using nothing but a fork. Don’t believe us? Try it for yourself.
Slice a squash in half, and drizzle oil and salt to taste. Then, bake at 400°F for 35-40 minutes. Once cooled down, use a fork to scrape and fluff the noodles into a bowl. It’s that easy.
Make sure to vary your pasta alternatives not to grow tired of them. We know, giving up carbs can be hard at first, but it won’t be long before you are finding comfort food in the most unsuspected places. Use these ideas to keep your keto diet dynamic, tasty, and nutritious.
Florence, aka Flo, is the lead editor at keto.fm. Obsessed with nutrition, Flo used the keto + a one meal a day (OMAD) diet to lose 50lbs in under half a year.
After experiencing the benefits first, both mentally and physically, he became one of the many keto ambassadors online.
He is currently working towards becoming a NASM Certified Nutrition Coach.